Sunday, 31 January 2010


Reading: Don't, Jenny Diski; about 50 pages of Germinal. I am enjoying the latter but only while I am reading it. When I am not reading it I tend to think of it as a boring ponderous novel and am disinclined to pick it up. When I do eventually pick it up I am reminded that it is brilliant and often enthralling. The obvious solution is to pick it up and read until I am finished so that is what I will do.

Listening: Arthur Russell; Talking Heads; Kid Creole & The Coconuts; Kenny Larkin; John Martyn.

Watching: Tennis. Also: Fantastic Mr Fox, which I saw at Forest Hill Hoyts, which is like a (barely) living ruin of the "golden" age of the multiplex. The stories that gack-patterned carpet could tell...

Friday, 29 January 2010


Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Monday, 25 January 2010


I was over in Australia and everyone's like "Are you proud to be an American?" And I was like, "Um, I don't know, I didn't have a lot to do with it. You know, my parents fucked there, that's about all. You know, I was in the spirit realm at that time, going 'FUCK IN PARIS! FUCK IN PARIS!' but they couldn't hear me, because I didn't have a mouth. I was a spirit without lungs or a mouth, or vocal cords. They fucked here. Okay, I'm proud."
Bill Hicks

Sunday, 24 January 2010


Last week's conspicuous cultural consumption:

Listening: Arthur Russell; Ella Fitzgerald; David Mancuso Presents The Loft Volume 1.

Reading: Germinal, Émile Zola; Stories, Anton Chekhov (tr: Pevear/Volokhonsky).

Watching: 30 Rock S03; Sealab 2021 S01.

Friday, 22 January 2010

Idea for a sitcom

NYC Cellos: Tom Cora and Arthur Russell are cellists in 1980s New York. Hilarity and cellarity ensues.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

A love story

I showed her mine and she showed me hers. As we each possessed a fundamental grasp of human anatomy, our respective disclosures were of little interest. We dressed in silence.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

By jingo

Apparently our PM is now a childrens' author and apparently the childrens' book he has co-authored is called Jasper & Abby and the Great Australia Day Kerfuffle. The book is not, sadly, a trenchant examination of how Australia Day provokes at least as much confusion, anger and self-righteousness as it does celebration and reflection. No, the book is about the PM's cat and dog. In one scene, which constitutes at least a portion of the eponymous kerfuffle, the two wascally whelps ruin an Australia Day cake. An Australia Day cake! Who knew such a thing existed?

A lot of the real life Australia Day kerfuffle could be solved by either a) not having Australia Day at all, or b) moving it to a date less freighted with historical significance. I've never seen the point of it anyway. This country hardly lacks for patriotic fervour - like the proverbial "Kids' Day", Australia Day needn't exist because every day is Australia Day.

Monday, 18 January 2010

Rejected Oblique Strategies

* Try ironing it onto a t-shirt.

* What would Zenobia, Empress of Palmyra, do?

* Dismemberment?

* That chicken - it's impersonating Mussolini! Question the outcome.

* Tie it to your favourite aunt's shiba inu.

* Is something m ssing?

* Consider bacon.

* Nick something from that smartarse Eno.

* Use "unqualified" people, eg. dentist, electrician.

* Try it again, only less sucky this time.


New 8tracks mix featuring: John Cale, The Walker Brothers, The Frogs, Nina Nastasia & Jim White, John Greaves & Peter Blegvad & Lisa Herman, John Martyn, Catherine Howe, Alexander "Skip" Spence, Sparks, Slapp Happy.

Listen here.

Sunday, 17 January 2010


Last week's conspicuous cultural consumption.

Listening: Led Zeppelin; This Heat; Television; Tapes 'n' Tapes. Is there a lesbian Zep tribute band called Lez Zeppelin? If not there should be.

Reading: Tropic of Cancer, Henry Miller; Germinal, Émile Zola; Scott Pilgrim #1, Bryan Lee O'Malley.

Watching: I'm Alan Partridge S01; the final two episodes of Breaking Bad S01. People Bryan Cranston looks like at various stages of Breaking Bad S01 include: Ned Flanders; Locke from Lost; Michael Stipe; William S Burroughs.

Friday, 15 January 2010

Trysts tropiques

Do not pick up books that have been put out on hard rubbish piles. Or, rather, do, but not if one of the books is Henry Miller's Tropic of Cancer because then you might be tempted to read it and that would be a mistake. "I am literally reading trash" I joked to my imaginary friends on twitter, thinking that they would think that I was clever. But get this: I was figuratively reading trash too! Nobody saw that coming.

I'm not going to offer an extensive critique of Tropic of Cancer. In a nutshell - or a cunt-shell, as HM might nonsensically have put it, fond as he was of that word ("cunt" rather than "shell") - it is what I like to call a palindromically bad work, which is to say that no matter how you approach it - aesthetically, morally, erotically - it is still fundamentally bad. HM is a grot, which is not in itself a bad thing, but his writing stinks more than his mindgrapes, and that's a cardinal sin as far as grot-lit is concerned. It's basically 300 pages of HM being a misogynistic anti-Semitic anti-American arsehole, a charming set of attitudes he details in often staggeringly banal cod-modernist prose.

I enjoyed maybe 20 out of Tropic of Cancer's 300+ pages, and not the sex bits either, they were tawdry and dull. Like D.H. Lawrence, who admittedly was working a rather different seam of sexified modernism, HM feels impossibly dated. ToC is an artefact: a famous book, a controversial book, but nonetheless an artefact and dead. I realise HM retains a rabid cult and said cult may find this post objectionable and post comments exhorting me to read Bukowski and Fight Club or just drop dead loser but that's how I see things vis-a-vis HM.

The copy of ToC I (temporarily) rescued from landfill oblivion was part of a series published in the early 00s called Flamingo Sixties Classics. I think this is significant: it's as if this book has been born and died twice, first during the tumult of the 30s then, after the ban on its publication was lifted in the States and England, during the tumult of the 60s. The thing about tumultuous times, as we well know, is that as invigorating and vital as they might be they also induce people to believe in and embrace all sorts of crazy shit. HM got lucky twice: he had the sympathy of the fauxhemian credulous in two separate decades. Hey, good for him, but he's still a complete c- ... er, shell. A complete shell.


Friday, 8 January 2010

Elvis was a hero to most

Today is Elvis's 75th birthday, or would be if he wasn't dead, although I suppose it's still his birthday even if he's not around to enjoy it. Today is also the day I finished reading Simon Crump's My Elvis Blackout. That's one of those coincidences you blow your friends' minds with, that is.

My Elvis Blackout is a compendium of alternate-world Elvises. Elvis as serial killer, Elvis as celebrity chef, Elvis as subservient Yorkshire husband and scale-modeling enthusiast. Someone on Amazon suggests that this book is "almost impossible to describe it without making it sound like one of the worst books in the world". I don't know that that's exactly true - I mean, it sounded good enough to me that I went and bought it - but it is a very unusual book. The guiding principle seems to be that Elvis's life was absurd, so why not take it even further? Hence this is not the book for the die-hard Elvis fan, unless said die-hard Elvis fan likes imagining Elvis doing things like slashing people with a swordstick or playing at bank robbers with Roy Orbison or being a cannibal.

Bits of My Elvis Blackout are funny but I found that the humour wore off after the first few vignettes. Crump's compact, surreal narratives hit with too much force to sustain laughter, which is not to say that they don't inspire a good deal of incredulous snorting, outraged guffawing and archetype-skewering ironic grins. Which, in other words, means it's completely ott and brilliant.

Neverland, Crump's take on Michael Jackson, arrived in my letter box the other day. From what I have read of it it appears to be in a similar vein to My Elvis Blackout only leaner, weirder, nastier.

Simon Crump's next book is going to be about Zola and he has a blog here.

Monday, 4 January 2010

Fucked-up Pikelets

Pikelets just like Grandma used to fuck up.

1. Sift one cup self-raising flour and one tbs sugar into a bowl. Add a pinch of salt.
2. In separate bowl, whisk ¾ cup of milk and one egg together then add to dry ingredients and combine.
3. Add shards of broken glass, foot scrapings, eye of newt, snot.
4. Drop level teaspoons of mixture into greased frying pan and cook, turning once.
5. Remove from heat and dust with rat poison.
6. Drop on floor and grind underfoot.

Recipe makes approx. 25 small fucked-up pikelets.